Frank Trana: Keeping it Simple and Tidy

Creative Leader of Natiwe

by Elizabeth Lavis


27 Oct 2023

Gold Winner in Packaging Design for Graphic Design 2023
"My advice for aspiring designers is to learn from more experienced people regarding work discipline"

For Frank Trana, the official Creative Leader and unofficial "designer and craftsman to the macrometer" for Natiwe Design Agency, the most crucial aspect of design is simplicity. "Keep it simple and tidy," he says. "Think as little as possible about the brief, at least while we are developing ideas."

Trana's streamlined approach has served him well, allowing him to work with whoever needs help in design, communication, or illustration. He also believes in trusting your gut and working hard for the best results. "My advice for aspiring designers is to learn from more experienced people regarding work discipline," he says.

Trana trusted his gut when he was just a child and first realized he wanted to work in design. "I knew my path when I was looking at a logo on a sign," he says. "I was eight years old." 

Hailing from the middle of Norway, Trana likes to mine his creative spark from his surroundings. "I like to drive or walk and be inspired by everything I see, other good designers and art. It's a mixture of doing things the old way and a new way and seeking the unexpected." 

"Almond snack logo and packaging design", Natiwe

Although Trana's ideas come from a deep well of disparate sources, his design process is bulletproof and streamlined. "It starts with the idea, then sleep, sketches, sleep, presentation and original work, sleep, then finally delivery," he says. He also adheres to a standard of excellence that fosters trust with clients. "Never deliver crap," he says. "Always try to reach your peak when it comes to work. Ninety-five percent is good, but go for 100 percent."

Thriving under pressure and understanding the delicate balance between his expertise and the client's wants are other critical parts of the job for Trana. "Clients come to me for a reason; they need help," he says. Faith in himself, his trusty Macbook Pro, and his self-described 'strange mind' help Trana succeed in the competitive design world. 

His future goals include developing different ways to deliver projects and growing as a professional through always being curious. If I could have dinner with one influential person, alive or dead, it would be Richard Diebenkorn," he says. Diebenkorn, famous for his work in the modern California art scene, rejected trends and embraced a plethora of different creative influences, elevating abstract art and featuring prominent geometric shapes in his work. His boldness and vision were transformative, and Trana credits Diebenkorn as one of his top design influences.

While his design goals are curiosity-based and focused on expanding horizons, personal growth requires some compartmentalization for Trana, including separating work from pleasure. "I'm just going to do what I do and take care of my children," he says. Simple, tidy, and focused approaches to work and life have certainly worked so far and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

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